Aussie finds success in America – Meet Ryan Wood

Ryan Wood and Frankie at the 2016 Rolex CCI4*.

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Having just completed Rolex on not one but two horses, Australian Ryan Wood is a force to be reckoned with in the eventing world. He also recently won the Jersey Fresh CCI3* on Summit Sporthorses’ Powell, a horse he produced himself, and is in consideration for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this summer.

But it wasn’t all ribbons and glory from the beginning with Ryan. He moved to the U.S. eight years ago, and he’s worked very hard to produce horses and results since then.

Ryan’s hunger for success on the international scene prompted his immigration in 2008. He states that he moved to the United States “to be as good as I could be as an event rider.” Although he is quick to clarify that “you can produce a horse as well in Australia as you can here [in America],” the heightened “opportunity to bring owners into the Eventing world in America” makes it easier to succeed. Ryan thinks this specific attribute of the American scene is “one of the reasons I moved over here — I was battling away in Australia with electric fence paddocks and a tin shed to keep the horses clean before a competition.”

That is not to say that Ryan did not have to battle for his own success in America — nothing was handed to him. He has cultivated a team of horses and owners over the past near-decade, “and there were definitely some speed bumps along the way.” He did not arrive stateside and have three horses entered at Rolex the following year — it took eight years to reach that point.

Ryan Wood and Fernhill Classic at the 2016 Rolex CCI4*.

Ryan Wood and Fernhill Classic at the 2016 Rolex CCI4*.

Ryan acknowledges, “moving here it was a goal to come to Rolex Kentucky from the beginning.” But before reaching the four-star level, he emphasizes, “I had to build a team of horses from the beginning.” He worked for Phillip Dutton for four years. He credits his “wonderful supporters” for their generosity, which has allowed Ryan to source horses from not only all over America but also England and Ireland. He still bases his operation out of Phillip’s True Prospect Farm, and now the benefits of his battles under the radar for years are finally shining through: his horses have “come through the levels and we’re seeing them sort of get to the top now.”

Ryan also appreciates the relative proximity of events on the East Coast of America, which makes traveling to local events simple because “you don’t have to travel as far as you do in Australia.” He underscores, “where we are in Pennsylvania, there are probably eight events — including three international events — within two hours of us.” Australia, too, has seen a large increase in the scope of its Eventing scene. Ryan says that “the sport is getting bigger and better,” with “more and more entries.”

Ryan Wood and Woodstock Bennett at the Carolina International CIC3*.

Ryan Wood and Woodstock Bennett at the Carolina International CIC3*.

Though he values his “great supporters and great friends” in America, he concedes that there is nothing like “the guys that you grew up with, came up through the levels with, who you became very close to.” He misses not only his friends back home, but “the characters there, the event organizers.” He recalls, “the events had a great feel, the good old events like Scone and Goulburn and SIEC.” He does not hesitate in saying “they’re all ones I would go back to.” He adds that he’d love to return to Australia to compete at the Adelaide CCI4* and see all of his old mates, as well as the younger generation coming up.

Humble as one could be, Ryan does not parade around talking about his success on the international Eventing scene. He has his head down and he’s working hard. He’s thanking his horses and his supporters. He is grateful for all the opportunity America has offered him, but he never forgets where he began.

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